One of the most beautiful defense mechanisms is that of the dinoflagellate, a family of bioluminescent algae that lets off an ethereal, electric blue glow when it senses the approach of a predator. You can see its effect on the shores of places like Krabi, Thailand, where blooms of dinoflagellate along the shore light up the tide line at night. And because the algae is relatively easy to harvest, it can also be used as a natural way to make products glow in the dark. Case in point: a new pendant made by the wildly experimental design duo Bompas & Parr in collaboration with GoldiRox jewelers.
Part of GoldiRox’s ocean-inspired Mermaid’s Lunchbox collection, the necklace is composed of a delicate glass orb that holds a thimble’s worth of water and a small bloom of algae. When the pendant is moved or shaken gently, the algae perceives the disturbance as a threat and emits its neon blue glow. Sam Bompas and Harry Parr–the culinary Willy Wonkas behind such inventions as edible glow in the dark jellies for SF MoMA and breathable cocktails–worked with Dr. Simon Park to learn how to harvest the algae, which they now do in the cleaning supply closet in their studio. To keep the algae alive, Parr says, you just have to expose it to sunlight like any other living plant.
“We’re excited about using gene-hacking, biohacking techniques, and rather than being afraid of them, using them in creative ways to give people a delightful time,” Parr says. “And there has been a history of living jewelry. In the Victorian era people would trap stag beetles and encrust some of their wings and horns with gold and then attach them with a pin and talk around with them at a dinner party. Now, I think that would be a little insensitive given the cultural context. So this is a little more playful in exploring ideas about micro-organisms.”
The pendant will soon be for sale for a cool £2,000 ($2,800) on Bompas & Parr’s website.
All Images: Daniel Resende and Bompas & Parr